Broken Bloodfeather Freakout

The other day I was attempting to give my moluccan cockatoo, Tooie, a shower. I set up the perch in the tub, turned the water on gentle, set the bird on the perch. Tooie decided he did NOT want a shower, and decided to save himself by dive bombing off of the perch and onto the floor of the bathroom. I pick his little half feathered butt up, set him gently in the tub, and started giving him a bath.

The water was running red.

I pick up the bird, freak out, and call for help. In the meantime, I set him on a perch in the bath room. He flaps his wings, and blood spews everywhere. My bathroom at this point was looking like a CSI crime scene, with bloody water in the tub and now blood spatter all over the walls.

I towel Tooie, and try to examine his wing. He’s bleeding from what appears to be multiple places, and there is a blood feather on the floor. Tooie at this point is being fairly calm, and thinks that all is pretty much ok as long as he gets his head petted. Typical cockatoo, right? Although I should probably preface this whole thing with a short background story on Tooie:

Tooie is an 18 y/o retired breeder. His first home he was out in a flight with his mate and was owned by a breeder. Well, the breeder decided they did not want to be in the bird business anymore, so instead of selling off his birds to other breeders, they decided just to stop feeding all the birds instead. By the time the ASPCA intervened, 16 birds were dead, Tooie was half starved and chewed up, and his mate was rotting away in the cage. Tooie was taken in by a couple who were attempting to rehabilitate him as a pet, and they did a fantastic job. This couple had him for about two and a half years, before they had to give him up due to some unfortunate circumstances. I took him in along with their other birds. As a result of all the trauma he went through when he was a breeder, he’s an extremely plucked bird – he has head feathers, but thats about it. So when new blood feathers grow in, there really isn’t much to protect them from breaking.

After about 20 minutes of applying pressure to the wing, the bleeding has appeared to be better. Let Tooie out of the towel to see how he does – one flap of his little chicken wings, and there is blood spatter all over the wall. The movement of him moving his wings tore off the blood clot and opened the wound again.

And of course, this all happened on a Sunday.

I put a call into the emergency vet, put Tooie in a heavily padded carrier, and off to the vet we go. He’s still bleeding, I’m still freaking out, and the vet is a 25 minute drive away. Thankfully when we got to the office there was no wait time and the vet saw us immediately. After examining his wing, she found that while there was no broken feather shaft – the feather had come completely out – the location from where it had fallen out was bleeding profusely. So she took some super-glue (I know, I was surprised too!) and applied it to a couple of bleeding spots on his skin to bind it. We waited for about twenty or so minutes, and checked again to ensure the bleeding had stopped. Thank goodness, it had.

Of course at this point Tooie is doing his typical cute cockatoo ‘I’m super cute and cuddly and have big puppy dog eyes so you should pet me’ deal and the vet fell in love. We escaped with a minor bill, and took him home. I set him up in a smaller cage to reduce activity, to make sure he wouldn’t start moving around too much and re-open his wing wound. Meanwhile, while he was lounging in his cage, I made a trip to the store.
Emergency Kit

I needed to make a birdie emergency kit, so that if this, or something like this, ever happens again, I’ll have at least the supplies on hand to deal with it. So I purchased:

  • Rubbermaid container (to put all the supplies in)
  • Nonstick gauze pads
  • Alcohol for cleaning wounds
  • Sterile gauze roll
  • Self adhering support bandage (like an Ace wrap)
  • cloth tape
  • Super-glue

At home, I also gathered other items to put in the kit, such as:

  • A clean large towel
  • A clean hand towel
  • Pack of round cotton swabs
  • 10 sterile syringes
  • Flashlight
  • Quik-Stop

All these items went into the container, which is now stored under one of the bird cages.

Tooie thankfully is doing great – he is playing and eating and moving around like nothing ever happened.

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Emily February 22, 2011 Blog, Cockatoo, The Birds